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From MMA to NBA, how Martial Arts changed the game

Posted on: March 19, 2015

Imagine if you will, an athlete facing off with his competitor. He pushes back as he feels his opponent’s breath on his neck; he quickly maneuvers himself with a flurry of steps aimed at catching his opponent off guard before finally finding an opening and breaking free of his defense.  This scenario is all too familiar for both those in the NBA or the professional circuit of MMA. It’s common knowledge among those in the sports field that pursuing excellence within their field, often time calls for training in other activities. Martial arts just happen to be an excellent training routine when it comes to building strength, maintaining flexibility and heightening agility and reflexes. These skills shine through on the court and the discipline shines through in practice. So the question you may ask is which NBA stars use or used martial arts in their training and what are they practicing?

Kobe Bryant



Kobe decided to follow in the footsteps of the master himself, Bruce Lee. The martial art that Kobe prefers is Jeet Kune Do, a discipline that focuses on maximizing speed while using the least movements possible. The discipline has helped him gain both mental strength and physical prowess that would otherwise be difficult to achieve through basketball practice alone.

James Johnson

james johnson

Gaining the nickname “Blood Sport”, James Johnson is no amateur when it comes to the world of martial arts. Johnson, both his parents and 8 siblings are all black belts. His kickboxing skills actually gained him a 20-0 winning record in the MMA world. His speed, strength and agility make him a terrifying force both on the matt and on the court.

Shaquille O’Neal


Very few people would dare get in the ring with Shaq, factor in the fact that he practices boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Mui Thai and you can bet you’ll be in a world of pain. Being big doesn’t mean a thing though if you don’t have the proper control over your body, that’s where martial arts training may come in handy. The training and endurance gained through the practice of many of the martial arts Shaq has chosen, has made him a force not to be reckoned with.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

kareem bruce

Yet another basketball star to be greatly impacted by Bruce Lee himself is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He actually studied Jeet Kune Do under Bruce Lee himself and even starred in Bruce Lee’s final film “Game of Death”. The basketball pro always spoke highly of martial arts and the profound discipline and impact it had on his training.

Hockman’s ATA is a dedicated Martial Arts school within Columbia, Missouri that focuses on Songahm Taekwondo and Krav Maga, the official self-defense system of many law enforcement agencies. Whether it be Karate for Kids, or our adult classes, we are dedicated to self-defense, fitness and mental as well as physical discipline, click here to find out more.

Hockmans ATA Martial Arts